Terri Carberry is a proud Aboriginal Wiradjuri woman from Griffith, NSW, who was raised by her grandmother with two of her six siblings.
She moved to Sydney for boarding school, and started thinking seriously about her future career in year 10. “I’ve always loved looking after kids, being the eldest they’ve always been around me,” she says. “I realised that as a nurse I could do pediatrics and be around kids.”
Dreaming of university life
Terri applied and was accepted into a Bachelor of Nursing at Australian Catholic University – but was forced to defer studies for financial reasons. She moved home to Griffith and worked for two years, hoping to save up enough to complete a degree.
She applied for the Sisters of Charity Foundation Tertiary Scholarship Program after returning to Sydney. “When I was told I was one of the finalists, I didn’t believe it,” she says. “I never thought I’d get it. When I finally got the call I was very excited – I didn’t know what to think, what to feel – I’d never really won anything!”
How did Terri use her scholarship?
Although Terri had saved quite a bit of money working, most of it was gone during her first year of the degree, thanks to high city rents, living expenses and textbooks. “If I didn’t have the scholarship money I don’t know what I would have done,” she says. “Most of it went towards paying off HECS, books and living expenses. I always heard other students talking about their debt – and I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about that.”
Her full-time degree left no time for anything else. Aside from study, she also had to complete 800 hours of unpaid placements. She recalls one day on the ward: “Kids deteriorate so quickly. When I did one of my placements, there was a little boy who was just flat on the bed not moving much. A couple of days later you wouldn’t recognise him, he was so happy on his dad’s shoulders, singing, dancing. I just love that feeling.”
Getting started on her career
Terri graduated in 2019. “When I was walking up to receive my certificate I was trying not to think, I was embarrassed, happy, excited,” says Terri.
After completing her studies she started a Transition to Professional Practice program for new nursing graduates at Griffith Base Hospital, where she spent six months in the medical department and six in the children’s ward. “At uni I really enjoyed my pediatrics placement,” she says. “I love working with kids. The ward is happy and bright, it’s less clinical, and the nurses are dressed in colourful scrubs.”
After spending three years in Sydney Terri is thrilled to be back home, where she’s living with her grandmother. “Together we share custody of my little 6-year-old cousin who lives with us. I missed him a lot while I was at uni,” she admits. “It’s good to be around everyone again.”
Help us change lives with a tertiary scholarship
A tertiary scholarship from the Sisters of Charity Foundation has the power to transform the life of a young person.
Learn how to support our Tertiary Scholarship Program, and help a young person who grew up in out-of-home care reach their full potential.
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